The tiny island of Tilos in the Dodecanese, is a pioneering nature reserve which is set to be completely powered by renewable energy.
The entire island has a permanent population hovering around 500 people, but more than 150 species of resident and migratory birds, and over 650 plant varieties. Contributing to Tilos’ biodiversity is a network of underground springs which feed five wetlands.
The island’s late mayor, Tassos Aliferis, a committed environmentalist earned Tilos its reputation as “Greece’s green island”. With hunting being banned as early as in 1993. Now, More than 20 years later, Tilos it is set to be the first island in the Mediterranean powered by wind and solar energy.
Currently Tilos relies on oil-based electricity from neighbouring Kos. Power is accessed via a submarine cable that is vulnerable to faults and power cuts are frequent. By installing a single wind turbine and small photovoltaic park, Tilos is creating a hybrid micro-grid that will generate and store energy. Installation is under way and an 18-month pilot begins in September of this year, as part of a 15m EUR project largely funded by the European commission. Eventually, Tilos could even export excess power to Kos.
As a long term goal the island should function as a pilot project inspiring similar efforts on other small islands in Europe. Furthermore, it’s hoped that knock-on effects will include increased visitor numbers – which currently stand at 13,000 per year – particularly among eco-minded travellers.